Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crimson Tide swimmer dies protecting girlfriend during tornado: Report

The word "hero" gets tossed around in sports (and life) way too often these days. But if anyone deserves the the title, it's John Servati.

And with a big H.

The University of Alabama dive and swim team member died after protecting his girlfriend from a collapsing wall during a tornado on Monday evening.

While deadly storms swept through the South, killing dozens of people and ripping apart whole towns, Servati ended up losing his own life protecting his girlfriend from a collapsing retaining wall in an off-campus home's basement, reported WSFA.

Anna Rae Gwarjanski, captain of the University's women's swimming and diving team, said the 21-year-old Servati managed to hold up the wall and save his girlfriend's life that night while sacrificing his own.

Servati was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center and later pronounced dead after being crushed under the wall.

His girlfriend survived.

"John Servati died a hero. Held up a concrete wall long enough for his girlfriend to get out from under it before it collapsed again on him," tweeted Gwarjanski.

"John's mom told our team this morning he always wanted to be an Alabama swimmer, and he always wanted to be a hero. He accomplished both."

Servati was a business student from Tupelo, Mississippi, according to his bio page, and scored at the SEC Championships. A successful student, he was also listed as having a 3.55 GPA in 2013. 

"John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit," UA head coach Dennis Pursley said in a statement. "During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all who had the good fortune to know him. He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy."

It seems only fitting that servati in Italian means preserved.


  1. "Greater love hath no man…". A true hero and I am sure a brand new angel at God's side. Condolences to his family, friends and teammates!

  2. I'm sorry!! May God be with you!

  3. God be with him, and his family and friends during this troubling time.

  4. Clyde and Debra I.PoeMay 1, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    our prayers are with you and your family and friends

  5. Words don't do justice to his deed. Sadly, his actions are all too rare, but they remind us of what we all can be.